Friday, February 20, 2015

Letters

'Carry on Cadets'

The pride of place

By MP Mark Strahl/Voice file photo

 

've always been proud of our local cadets. No matter the occasion, whether in extreme heat or in the rain and sleet, these 12 to 18 year old young Canadians are there whenever we gather at the local cenotaph, doing their part to add dignity and meaning to our remembrance.

 

I had the opportunity to witness some of the training that these dedicated young men and women go through when I was invited to visit the 147 Airwolf Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadrondrill practice in Chilliwack. Conducted in the Princess Armouries, a City of Chilliwack Heritage Building which is over 100 years old, the 70 or so cadets put on an impressive, and I'm told, impromptu inspection ceremony, complete with a marching band and a march past at the end of their three hour evening of training.

 

I was also there to present the Duke of Edinburgh’s Bronze Award to a young woman and accomplished cadet, Jordan Baker. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award “empowers young people…to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others, by exploring their potential, taking on new challenges, giving back to their communities, and achieving success.”  Jordan certainly has earned her award, and her parents and cadet comrades were justifiably proud and inspired by her achievement.

 

I was struck by the passion of both the cadets and even more so the officers who give so much of their time and energy to promoting and mentoring young people in what former National Defence Minister Peter Mackay often referred to as "the best youth program in Canada."

 

There is no cost to join, and an impressive and hard working Parent Committee leads the fundraising efforts for the many extracurricular activities and trips that are offered. Indeed, if 147 Airwolf is any indication, the cadets are an extremely diverse group that cares only about your willingness to seek to better yourself no matter what circumstances have brought you to their door. I'm told that only about 1 in 10 Cadets seeks out a career in the military after they "age out" at 19, so this program is for anyone seeking adventure, activity and camaraderie, not just those who think a career in the Canadian Armed Forces might be for them.

 

The youth in these programs have a sense of purpose and quickly embrace the structure that it provides. Their beaming smiles when I asked them how long they'd been with the cadets and how they were enjoying it told me all I needed to know. The program is on the upswing in Chilliwack, and elsewhere across the country.

 

I spoke with many of the Flight Commanders and the Chief Warrant Officer Cadet, all student leaders in their teens, brimming with confidence and pride at having been selected to lead their fellow cadets and looking forward to the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities.

 

The Commanding Officer and his Officers were proud too - proud of the history of their Squadron, proud of each cadet that they were watching grow up before their eyes, and proud to be a part of this storied Canadian Armed Forces program.

 

I won't soon forget the experience of having 70 cadets come to attention and yell "GOOD EVENING, SIR!" after I started my remarks with "Good evening, Airwolf". I won't forget the strong leadership that I saw on display from the volunteers and those under their command. And next time I visit, I won't forget to polish my shoes first.

 

147 Airwolf, you passed inspection with flying colours. Please, carry on.

 

 

 

To find out more about the Cadet Program, visit www.cadets.ca

 

Mark Strahl is the Member of Parliament for Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

 

 

 

 

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